Pictured - Magpie front rowers for 2011 - (Top) Gareth Price, (bottom) Moe Clune.
by Peter (Parra) Montgomery
The Hay Magpies Rugby League Club has announced the signing of former Welsh International prop, Gareth Price as Captain Coach of its Senior side for the entry into Group 20 First Grade in 2011.
Gareth (Gazza) played eleven Test matches for Wales in the early part of the 2000s – including games against Australia, England and PNG.
He gained selection in the Welsh Test side after impressive performances with powerful English Super League Clubs, St Helens, London Broncos, Celtic Crusaders, Hull Kingston Rovers and Widnes Vikings.
He was brought to Hay by the Magpies last week to look over the facilities and attend a training session as an observer.
He was most impressed with the town, its facilities and the friendly nature of the place.
He agreed to the Club’s terms on the weekend. Gareth is in Australia on a working holiday for the next twelve months, and jumped at the opportunity to come 'bush' for a game of League.
During his time in Hay last week, he had a long conversation with Magpies Trainer and Team co-ordinator Rob Anderson, as well as Shayne Kennedy who has been named as Gareth’s assistant coach.
"I like the way Rob put the boys through their paces, and I like the fact that all the players responded to his demands for the full session." the new coach said.
"It was full on and the boys all had a red hot go".
"I will need Shayne to help me plan the season. He knows what the players are capable of, and he is really keen to help out", Price said.
Club President, Don Payne said that the quietly spoken Welshman is going to be a great asset, not only to the Magpies, but also to the community.
"Gazza comes highly recommended by former Hay player Brett Goldspink, who was at St Helens when Gareth was playing Juniors
"As well, Ben Roarty has been in contact with friends involved with Hull Kingston Rovers and they had nothing but good reports on him", Mr Payne said
When Gareth signed with Leigh in 2008, along with current CRL half back and Ex Eel Denis Moran, the 'Iloveleague' Leigh website posted -
"Gareth Price returns to Leigh on a two-year contract following a five year absence.
The 27-year old front rower played 18 games for Widnes this season including their Northern Rail Final triumph over Whitehaven.
"I know what I’ll get from Price," explained Darren Shaw, football manager of Leigh Centurions
"He’s a big guy. Gareth is one of those guys that needs a lot of game-time on the fitness side of things but I’ve seen him play for 35-40 minutes straight up and as the year goes on he’ll get better and better.
" He gives us a bit of aggression and good size upfront and we are gaining a very good offload game from him as well.
He can play with the ball before the line and through the line. In Price and Hobson we’ve got two very good props there and John Hill as well.
"They are going to work very well with the younger guys, the Chris Hill’s and the Cookson’s and help bring them along over the next year or two."
Price began his Rugby League career at St Helens after previously playing Rugby Union for Hendy.
After playing eleven games for the Saints, he switched back to rugby union with Neath before linking with the Centurions in 2002.
It proved an eventful season for Price - he played 16 games for the Centurions including their Grand Final against Huddersfield, but also spent time on loan with Salford and London Broncos.
Following a three season stint with Rochdale Hornets, Price moved on to Hull Kingston Rovers and also played for Celtic Crusaders during their inaugural year."
SHAYNE KENNEDY ASSISTANT COACH
"The Club sees Shayne as a future Captain/Coach of the Club, and the experience he can gather in the next season playing under a former international will add to his immense talents, " Mr Payne said
"We have assembled a good side with representative prop Moe Clune also linking up with the Clubs.
"Moe is another big forward and his combination with Gareth up front will provide us with plenty of ooomph up front.
"He represented Group 20 in 2008, and Group 9 for the past two seasons while a member of Wagga Brothers.
"Moe was part of the Brothers team coached by Craig Field that lost the 2009 Grand Final to the very strong Wagga Kangaroos", Mr Payne said.
"The platform set by the forward will allow the brilliance of players like Jermaine Dixon and the Kennedy brothers to shine through.
"Little Peni Baleinasauri has committed to playing and the Robinvale boys Tavita Buimaiwai, Maxie Sweeper, Ratu Yaka and a new player, Petero Yavala have all expressed excitement for the season ahead and have commenced pre-season training.
The Club is close to signing a couple of players with international experience - one a prop, the other an inside back.
"The Club is also in the middle of negotiations with the brother of a recent former Kangaroo forward who has spent the past 12 months playing in the United States. We are confident of him coming on board also, and if he does, we will have huge depth in the forward pack.
"The good thing in the Club's favour is that his dad is a former Hay boy, and came to the town a couple of years ago tracing his family 'roots'.
"The player has been recommended to the Magpies by former coach and Team of the Century member, Fred Hobbs.
Both the Test forward, and his young brother are ‘godsons’ of Fred, who will be in town for the Pie in the Sky Festival.
Mr Payne said the Magpies Club has been buoyed by the enthusiasm of the move into a fully committed Group 20 Club.
"The signing of an experienced coach and the back up players, will provide a great opportunity to the younger players in the Club to attain their full potential.
"We will train hard, and compete hard. We aim to be competitive from day 1.
"We are not in the competition to make up numbers", Mr Payne said.
Meanwhile, The Magpies have welcomed long term sponsor The Hay Services Club on board for another season.
"The Club has been a great supporter of the Magpies, and we know it has to be a two way street, " The President said.
"We have many big functions like the Pie in the Sky Footy Show, the Pie in the Sky Sportsman’s Night (which will be extended to 650 guests with the addition of a marquee; Black and White Ball mid season, Polynesian Night mid season, and Presentation evening which in the past have packed the Club out.
"In addition, the Club is always a welcoming venue to local and visiting teams at post match functions, and with the Magpies moving into first grade this year, crowds are expected to improve greatly."
The Magpies are in full training three nights a week at the No 1 Oval.
Trainer Rob Anderson said the goal is for all players to be physically and mentally stronger in the coming season.
"Training starts right on 6 pm, not five past or quarter past, and ALL players should be warmed up and ready to go right on time.
"We have had some good sessions already, and the boys are responding to the task very well’, Rob said.
"Players should bring a bottle of water, and 5kg weights to be used during the sessions, which are meant to be exhausting
"The players need to put in at the sessions. Nothing great is easy", Rob explained.
"Early season pain results in end of season gain.
"Older blokes like Neil John (Nisbet) and Danny (Byrnes) are a lot older than most of the other blokes, and they NEVER give in," the trainer laughed.
"Success is a journey
not a destination -
half the fun is getting there".